Shore 104.3FM Song Search Showcase, Night 1 @ the Biltmore, Vancouver July 7th, 2011

This past Thursday night was Shore 104.3FM‘s first of two showcases for their 2011 Song Search, and I had the pleasure of being a part of it!  If you’re scratching your head asking yourself “What the deuce is the Shore 104 Song Search?”, well, the Shore’s Song Search is a songwriting contest that, basically, anyone in BC can enter for a chance to win recording time, cash, gear from Long & McQuade, radio airplay on Shore 104.3FM and much more.  For more info on the contest, check it out here: Shore 104 Song Search!

On this first night, five bands/artists played half hour sets each and rocked the Biltmore Cabaret into submission.  The first night had performances from Billy The Kid, Sheree Plett, The Matinee, Randy Ponzio (The Quest Poetics), and Freeflow.

Around 9pm, Gord Rutherford, a DJ from the Shore 104 stepped on stage rocking a badass fedora and introduced the first act, Billy The Kid, and the night was off!  Billy stood all alone on stage, like a true singer/songwriter would, and kicked her set off with an excellent cover of the Boss’s Atlantic City (Bruce Springsteen is the Boss, for those who are unaware).  Her guitar playing was nice, but I was even more impressed with her proficiency on the harmonica while strumming her acoustic.

Billy the Kid on the keys

Billy played her tune that got her into the contest, The Drugs, and a few others on guitar, and then switched it up to piano accompaniment.  Once her set was over, she received great applause and it was clear that she had a strong fan following in the crowd, which will no doubt help her during the public voting portion of the contest.  

Next up on the docket was Sheree Plett, who, along with her band which includes her husband on electric guitar, kicked up the volume a notch or three.  Sheree had a lovely voice that had a great twang to it and to accompany said twang, the gang played a country-influenced tune or two.  As Sheree admitted to the crowd, she loved “the ol’ country boys in tight pants like Dwight Yoakam and Randy Travis“, all thanks to her mom who raised her on country.

Sheree Plett getting twangy!

After about five or six tunes, Sheree, her guitar, and her band played their final tune which also got them in the contest, called Old House.  However, my favourite song they played went something along the lines of “So I keep trembling” repeated through the chorus.  Note to self: figure out what that song is called, buy it and listen, listen, listen!

Right in the dead center of the night was the band I was anticipating the most, as they’ve also been included in the PEAK Performance Project Top 20 finalists.  They were a bit of a mystery to me as I’ve only heard one of their tunes and I had yet to see them play live. Little did I know what we at the Biltmore were in for.

The Matinee came on stage with every member of the band sporting fancy fedoras (with exception to the upright bassist), facial hair and blue jeans.  Judging by their attire, I was quickly readying myself for a good, ol’ fashioned ho-down.  After the first bar of their opening tune, the dance-floor was inundated with people dancing and carrying on and the like.

The Matinee rousing the crowd

These guys were tight.  Their musical prowess made it clear they’d had been at this game for a while. They also made it clear that their inspirations weren’t all country/bluegrass rock, as their second song 50 Bucks had an interlude that featured a banjo’d up version of Pink Floyd‘s Another Brick In the Wall.  One of the highlights of their set, no doubt!  

They played Sweetwatertheir tune that got them into both PEAK and Shore radio contests, and finished off with a song I missed the name of, but had an amazing drum-off towards the end of it:  each member of the 5-man band grabbed a drum, or something to hit with sticks and played some great beats, all in synchronicity.  Very cool!  What a way to finish off a set, and after it was done, it was clear to me that these guys were the band to beat in this contest. 

Randy Ponzio rocking a tight groove

Randy Ponzio and the Quest Poetics took the stage shortly after and played some rocked-out reggae/hip-hop for us.  Again, another crowd-pleaser of an act as the dance-floor was again flooded with people boot-slappin’ and be-boppin’.  Randy was quite the charmer as well, as he sang his song that got him into the contest For The People, getting everyone to sing along.  Although Randy’s music isn’t necessarily my “cup of tea”, I couldn’t deny his knack for writing tight, catchy tunes and the way in which he engaged the crowd.  He even slowed it down a little bit for what he called a “love song” that my compadre, Steve, referred to as “baby-making music”.  I couldn’t help but agree.  

To cap off the night of great music, Freeflow took to the stage. They started off quite strong, as a building rhythm mixed with some real funky guitar playing got my attention.  As their tunes progressed, the night was getting late, and I had to work in the morning.  So, unfortunately, we cut Freeflow‘s set a little early so we could make it home in one piece.

Freeflow reminded me a little of Elwood mixed with Daniel Wesley and early Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Not a bad combo, right?  If you enjoy those artists, you will likely dig what Freeflow are putting out!

Freeflow doing their thang

So with that my night was done and it was time to hit the road.  So honoured to have been a part of the first night of Shore 104.3FM Song Search Showcases at the Biltmore!

I can’t wait for next week and night #2!


~ by DR on July 9, 2011.

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